Is the Max series Dune: Prophecy based on the Dune novels? (And 4 more things to know)

Max has unveiled the first teaser for Dune: Prophecy so here's what to know about the prequel to the hit sci-fi movie!
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Dune: Prophecy just unveiled its first trailer and release date, so here’s what you need to know about the prequel to the acclaimed Dune movies!

A landmark of science fiction, Frank Herbert’s Dune has spawned numerous spinoffs by Herbert himself as well as his son and other authors. It’s an audacious mythology that can be hard to summarize as it touches on so many aspects of science fiction, religion and drama. 

The original novel was first adapted to the big screen in 1984 with David Lynch’s flop. In 2021, Denis Villeneuve revived it with a new movie, with a sequel completing the novel released earlier in 2024. Ordered way back in 2019 (before Max even existed), Dune: Prophecy looks to deepen the work much like how House of the Dragon serves as a good prequel to Game of Thrones

The show’s hit delays from various showrunner changes to the 2023 strikes, but it is finally set to hit this fall. So here are a few things to know about the upcoming prequel drama!

What is Dune: Prophecy about?

The series is based on the 2012 novel Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It’s set 10,000 years before the original Dune novel, just as people are understanding the mysterious “spice” capable of folding space and expanding the mind. Mankind is also recovering from a clash with robots, although it’s unclear if the series will play on that.

The show focuses on the Harkonnens, who in the movies are the bad guys but in this time, a tad more honorable. Two sisters fight their own family and other forces before forming what will become the Bene Gesserit, a sect determined to control the universe behind the scenes. 

Thus, fans get to see how the Bene Gesserit got started and what drives them to the moves that will culminate in Paul Atreides leading a revolt millennia later. It’s a great story and an important part of the Dune mythology.

Do you need to know the movies/books first?

It may be a bit daunting to get into Dune and some may wonder if watching the movies is needed. A good analogy remains how you can enjoy House of the Dragon without seeing Game of Thrones as this is set so far ahead of the movies, there’s no direct connection.

However, it can be fun for fans to see the seeds laid for events that will play into the films. Seeing how the Bene Gesserit began, the conflicts of the galactic powers, it has a lot of easter eggs and themes for fans. So, while needing to see the movies first helps, it’s not totally necessary to enjoy the series. 

Who stars in Dune: Prophecy?

The cast is led by Emily Watson and Olivia Williams as Valya and Tula Harkonnen. The actresses are both veterans of movies and television and should bring some fantastic power to the two women who break from their families to start their own religion. 

Also in the cast is Jodhi May as Empress Natalya, wife of Emperor Corrino (Mark Strong) who rules the known universe with Sarah-Sofie Boussnina as their daughter, Princess Ynez. Shalom Brune-Franklin is Mikaela, a Fremen serving the royal family and the rest of the cast is a mix of great actors who showcase the conflicts between the worlds that sets up the action to come. 

  • Emily Watson as Valya Harkonnen
  • Olivia Williams as Tula Harkonnen
  • Jodhi May as Empress Natalya
  • Sarah-Sofie Boussnina as Princess Ynez
  • Shalom Brune-Franklin as Mikaela
  • Faoileann Cunningham as Sister Jen
  • Aoife Hinds as Sister Emeline
  • Chloe Lea as Lila
  • Travis Fimmel as Desmond Hart
  • Mark Strong as Emperor Javicco Corrino
  • Jade Anouka as Sister Theodosia
  • Chris Mason as Keiran Atreides

How many episodes are in Dune: Prophecy?

The show will have six episodes, which may seem a low number. However, its major production and pushing so many plotlines means it’s likely to have much more story than shows with twice as many installments.

Should the show be a big enough success, a second season might include more episodes, while the six-episode number is good enough for now.

When does Dune: Prophecy premiere? 

So far, HBO only says the show has a fall 2024 release window but no exact date yet. The show will want to have a big splash and connect to the hit movies. 

More details will come like a release date but the teaser alone hints this show will be a fantastic addition to the Dune universe.

Dune: Prophecy premieres fall 2024 on Max.

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